Ch. 5: Fair Use and Media Liability
Fair use is an exception to copyright law that sometimes allows media professionals to use excerpts of copyrighted material or versions of it. Be warned: fair use doesn't open the gates for you to use copyrighted material whenever you want.
Fair use allows ad agencies, marketing firms, and media professionals to use some copyrighted material freely if it is for limited purposes, including…
- Parody. This is why Weird Al can spoof copyrighted hits.
- Criticism. Newspapers can sometimes use excerpts of song lyrics, poems, and other materials.
- Education. Teachers may sometimes use parts of copyrighted material in their classroom and coursework.
- Reporting. Reporters and media professionals may be able to summarize and refer to other reports authored by someone else.
Even with these exceptions, don't expect you'll be able to rely on the fair use exemption. For more information on fair use, explore the US Copyright Office Fair Use Index or watch the helpful video A Fair(y) Use Tale .
Ask a copyright lawyer about fair use and they'll respond with a long, weary, dramatic sigh. Fair use law is notoriously difficult to interpret — and that difficulty can lead to lawsuits. Even Weird Al asks permission before parodying his victims.
Next: Pt. 1: What Ad Agencies and Media Professionals Need to Know about Fair Use